Florida Panthers fans still remember the famous plastic rats that were thrown onto the team's ice during the team's 1996 playoff run, but among the current players, one of them isn't holding up. He cannot be associated with the rodent at all.
Former Montreal Canadiens player Nick Cousins is a reliable element for his head coach Paul Maurice. The 30-year-old veteran is far from distinguished by his talent as a goalscorer, as his tally of two goals and three assists in 37 games this season shows. However, his combative style of play makes him despicable in the eyes of his opponents.
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In fact, former National Hockey League defenseman Kevin Bieksa called him a “rat” during the “Hockey Night in Canada” show on Sportsnet in January. Then Cousins ended up at the top of a survey conducted by The Athletic among players in the league: respondents were asked to identify who they found most tempting to punch in the face.
When asked about this topic by the website floridahockeynow.com, the main person concerned does not seem to be affected in any way by the poor perception of those around him.
“It’s the type of hockey I’ve played my entire career. Some like it, some don't. That's what got me to this point and I don't really plan on changing. Some people like it, others don't. It is like this,” the attacker told the local website.
Don't invite people to the same party
Furthermore, according to Cousins, Bieksa hates him openly and uninhibitedly. The relationship between the two men is rather tense, especially because of the criticism that the former hockey player expressed on television. Among other things, he denigrated the striker in connection with attacks on Erik Gudbranson of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Mark Scheifele of the Winnipeg Jets. In December, the first of the two tried to attack the Panthers skater by reacting to a tackle from behind. Gudbranson was ejected from the game and later received a one-game suspension.
“Obviously the guy doesn’t like me,” Cousins said about Bieksa. One evening at home the phone started ringing. Then people sent me the video [du commentaire diffusé à la télévision]. He has a right to his opinion. I’ve never met him, but I’d like to.”
For his part, Maurice says he is very happy with his protégé's contribution.
“Players have a good reputation whether they deserve it or not. There will be more people who don't like you, and that's okay with me. “I’m happy with Nick and his style of play,” he emphasized.
“I love counting on him at the club,” confirmed striker Matthew Tkachuk. He was a very important player in the final stage and in the playoffs last year. It was nice to play in the same trio as him. I think we had good chemistry and we did well.”